What to do when people praise

People often praise you when they are inspired by any of your great qualities or due to some eye-catching belongings in your possession. Sometimes this praise is a token of appreciation, while on other occasions a person praises for flattery in order to gain worldly benefits or to avoid an unjust person’s mistreatment.

“You are so generous!”, “You are very kind hearted!”, ” You are a genius”, “You are a practicing Muslim”, “You’re pious”, “You are very intelligent”. These are some of the praising quotes that many of us hear from our colleagues, peers, disciples, subordinates, servants, friends, etc.

The desire to hear such praise from people around us is itself a spiritual disease which one should always avoid. This inner feeling that people should praise me ruins the soul. As a result, the person starts doing good or bad deeds for fame. The element of sincerity in the relationship with Allah swt weakens. On the contrary, when people bad mouth about them or even when they just doesn’t praise a praise-thirsty person, he becomes depressed and his heart starts sinking.

So what should be our response when people praise us.

My Shaikh Hazrat Maulana Hakim Muhammad Akhtar sb RA used to say that whenever people say kind words about you, always thank Allah taala that He has made our evil deeds hidden from the eyes of the people and revealed our good deeds to them, which are themselves gifted by The Almighty.

He used to say that on such occasions, unless the praise is for flattery or other ill-purpose, do not try to silence them. Just talk to yourself that this is a blessing from Allah taala that He has hidden my vices from my brother’s eyes. This increases the faith and love of Allah taala.

إِذَا مُدِحَ الْمُؤْمِنُ فِي وَجْهِهِ رَبَا الْإِيمَانُ فِي قَلْبِهِ

When a Mumin is praised on his face his faith/imaan increases.

المستدرك على الصحيحين

That can best be understood by following dua of Prophet Sallahoalaihewassallam.

اَللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِىْ صَبُوْرًا وَّ اجْعَلْنِىْ شَكُوْرًا وَّ اجْعَلْنِىْ فِىْ عَيْنِىْ صَغِيْرًا وَّ فِىْ أَعْيُنِ النَّاسِ كَبِيْرًا۔

O Allah! Make me one who is patient and grateful; and make me small in my own eyes but great in the eyes of others

مجمع الزوائد

It is important to elaborate that supplicating to make myself small in my own eyes is obvious but supplicating to be great in other’s eyes is not a wanting of fame. Rather, it is a request to have a good repute so that it becomes easier to present deen to the masses.

He would also say about رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ that the hasanah of this world includes, but not limited to, good repute among the people.

He used to say that there are four categories of praises: Creator praises Himself, Creator praises His creature, Creature praise their Creator, Creature praise other creatures. All of these types of praise actually praise the Creator because any praise of the creatures is actually the praise of the Creator.

May Allah swt give us His love that everything we see and everything we hear increases our faith in Him.

Patience and its rewards

Quran says that for sure Allah Taala will test us in this world by inducing a bit of sufferings and those who observe patience upon those sufferings will be awarded rewards not only in the here-after but in this world too.

(وَلَنَبۡلُوَنَّکُمۡ بِشَیۡءٍ مِّنَ الۡخَوۡفِ وَالۡجُوۡعِ وَنَقۡصٍ مِّنَ الۡاَمۡوَالِ وَالۡاَنۡفُسِ وَالثَّمَرٰتِ ؕ  وَبَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ ۙ ۝ الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَاۤ اَصَابَتۡہُمۡ مُّصِیۡبَۃٌ ۙ  قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَیۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ ؕ)
[Surah Al-Baqarah 155 – 156]

Surely We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to the patient. who, when a suffering visits them, say: “We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him we are bound to return.”

My Shaikh Hazrat Maulana Hakim Muhammad Akhtar Sb RA whenever recite these verses used to stress on the word بِشَیۡءٍ . He was such a great person that he would always give hope to the ummah. He says that the word بِشَیۡءٍ shows that the believers should not be afraid of these sufferings and observe patience as these sufferings will be very limited and scanty in nature and will be for a short duration.

Losses in business, low grades in academics, financial burden, illness in the family, fear of foes, car crash are few examples of these sufferings. When we observe patience, as these sufferings start pinching, believe that this is the very moment of our victory. Tidings are given on some extraordinary achievement not on ordinary labor.

My Shaikh Hazrat Maulana Jalil Ahmed Akhoon sb damat barakatuham elaborates that patience not only means to accede to the sufferings but also to believe that there must be some hidden betterment that Allah taala wants me to have in lieu of these sufferings.

Allah taala has taught us to recite اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَیۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ whenever we are afflicted by a suffering. This not only helps in reducing the heatbreaking feelings but the person will also be rewarded with a better alternative in this world, inshaallah.

Consistency of Good Deeds is a Blessing

It is reported in a hadith that Prophet Sallahoalaihewassallam has said

“أَحَبُّ الأعمالِ إلى اللهِ أدومُها و إن قل

Allah taala’s most admiring deeds are those which are consistently performed though they are fewer in numbers.

Shaikh ul Hadith Hazrat Maulana Jalil Ahmed Akhoon sb elaborates that this is regarding non-obligatory deeds (nawafil)

One should not be too much concerned about the amount of nafils, tahajjud, recitation, etc. Rather, one should try to be consistent, no matter fewer in cpunts, in performing these deed. This way good deeds will be psychologically easier to perform and will accumulate over time.

We see people reciting Quran for few specific days and nights and then forget the recitation for months. Similarly, people perform some good deeds on specific dates for the benefit of the loved ones who have passed away but completely forget them for a year.

My shaikh Hazrat Maulana Jalil Ahmed Akhoon sb damat barakatuham used to say that daily recitation of as fewer as 2 ayaat has been promised in a hadith with glad tidings.

We often defer our charity, zikr, recitation, and wait for substantial amount of funds, time, and tranquility. This approach is inaccurate and this wait is futile. Why should we wait when the Prophet sallallaho alaihi wassalam and his companions did not waited for tranquility and affluence and started whatever they could in whatever situations they were in.

In essense one should practise such nafil deeds that he/she could perform consistently, no matter how small they are.